Saturday, July 2, 2011
The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Jim LaMarche. Random House, 2011. $18.99 ages
"She stepped over anthills,
careful not to tread on any ants,
and walked slowly under an arch
of azalea boughs.
With her tail, she saluted
the hives of bees behind the house
as they buzzed about their business.
Her purr was louder now."
I can only imagine how hard it is to lose a pet. I have watched dear friends say goodbye. Never having had a pet, I cannot know their loss. I can certainly empathize with them as they struggle to deal with the death of one so loved.
Teachers and librarians are always on the lookout for books that might help a child who is struggling with loss to find comfort in story. We never know which book might be the right one for them. So, we keep our eyes and ears open for the 'next' one.
Children are unsure about death, having little life experience to call upon when they face the death of a pet. Books like this one might get the conversation started and also provide some reassurance. I like this quietly beautiful story about a cat knowing that her time has come, and wanting to say goodbye. It is a lovely last day for her, as she visits the people, places and things that have been her home. Jane Yolen treats death as a natural and welcome event for this much loved feline.
Her final leap is inevitable and comfortable:
"She never once looked back
as she climbed away from life,
leaving her old and tired body behind.
Up and up she went,
and then she was gone,
now part of the earth, the air, the sky, the sun -
Jim LaMarche’s illustrations are as warm and gentle as the story itself. His realistic and detailed look at Tiger Rose's family life, the animals that make up her world, and the beauty of the landscape are a perfect match to Jane Yolens's elegant, compassionate words. The final illustration is uplifting and provides comfort.